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Patterns #4: The Drum, A Folktale from India (Circular or Chain Pattern)

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students will learn the pattern of a circular or chain story.  This lesson is easy to teach, and the kids get a kick out of putting the circular pattern together.  Not only do they learn to identify a circular/chain story, but they write one together as a class, showing them exactly how much fun and simple story writing can be.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Each student will identify and describe the language pattern found in The Drum: A Folktale from India.   Students will then use this language pattern to create an original class story.  (AASL 4.1.2, “Read widely and fluently to make connections with self, the world, and previous reading.”)

Suggested Time:

45-50 minutes

Success Criteria:

Each student will create a story map showing the circular pattern found in The Drum: A Folktale from India.  Students will then work together to quickly sketch an original class story based on the same language pattern.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Remind the students of the language patterns they have studied in previous lessons.  To refresh your memory, those are:

The Crocodile and the Dentist:  A:A, B:B, C:C, D:D – Repetitive pattern

The Rose in My Garden:  A, AB, ABC, ABCD, ABCDE – Cumulative pattern

Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book:  Nesting pattern

Explain that today’s story uses a different pattern, one that they will capture in a story map.   After figuring out the language pattern from The Drum, explain that the class will create a simple story of their own using the same pattern.

2. Main: 

Part 1:

Read/teach “The Drum.”   Each student will make a capture sheet to show that they understand the circular structure of the story.

Scribe the story map so that the children have a guide for their own maps.  Emphasize that the drawings should be quick and simple sketches, just to capture the idea.  (See photo).

Ask the children the following questions to check for understanding:

  • When the story started, what did the boy want?  Answer:  A Drum
  • When the story ended, what did the boy have?  Answer:  A Drum
  • Looking at the story map, what is the structure of this story?  Answer:  A Circle.   Point out that many stories do have a circular or “chain” structure.
  • What elements of the PYP Learner profile can you see in the boy?  Answer:  Will vary, but definitely Caring.
  • The old man said that the stick might have magic in it.  What do you think?  Was the stick magic?  Answer:  The boy received his wish because he was kind, caring, and giving to others.  The “magic” was his kindness.
Part 2:

As a class, quickly brainstorm a new folktale with a circular structure.  Here is an example of one that one of my classes came up with in about three minutes:

  • There was once a poor girl who wanted a new dress. Her father could not afford one, but on his way back from market he picked up a stone from the side of the road.
  • The girl took the stone and went out to play. Soon she came to a family building a fire pit.  They needed a stone to complete the job.  She gave them her stone, and in return they thanked her by giving her a fish they had caught in the river early that morning.
  • The girl took the fish and continued on her way. Soon she came to a family with a hungry child.  She gave them the fish to feed the child, and in return they gave her a mat they had woven.
  • With the mat, the girl went on down the road. She met a family with a baby.  They needed to lay the baby down for a nap, but they did not want to place the baby on the dirt floor of their home.  The girl happily gave them the mat.  They thanked her by giving her a pair of trousers.
  • Arriving in the next village, the girl noticed a seamstress in a shop working feverishly to make trousers. The girl asked her why she was working so hard to sew trousers. The seamstress said that the men of the village were building a school and that their work clothes were worn.  The girl gave the seamstress the trousers.  To thank her for the trousers, the seamstress gave the girl a new dress from her shop.

Story Circle:  Dress – Stone – Fish – Mat – Hat – Dress

3. Conclusion:

Ask the children to look at their story maps and decide whether they could tell either of the stories again.   Ask them to reflect on writing a circular or chain story.  Could they do it again, this time by themselves?  Could they show a friend how to write a circular story?  Does the pattern help us remember how to tell the story and how to write a story?  (Emphasis on reflecting on the experience.)

  1. The Drum: A Folktale from India.  Retold by Tom Wrenn and Rob Cleveland
  2. Flipchart paper and markers to scribe the story map for the class.
  3. Clipboards
  4. Pencils
  5. Blank paper in a literacy or writer’s notebook.

I have included this lesson both in the Ancient Civilizations Unit and in the Patterns unit.  Obviously, you won’t teach the same lesson twice to the same year group.  But, because the lesson fits well in both units, I’ve left it in place.  It is unlikely that both of your school’s units will match these sample units, and it is a great lesson!  Please use it in the lesson that best matches your school’s curriculum.

Kids quickly pick up on the pattern of receiving and giving.  They like to guess what is coming next, and they are very proud when they can look back at their story map and retell the story.  This is really an excellent lesson for literature (folktales) with a strong Unit of Inquiry tie.  Many folktales can be story-mapped, but my schools have always had a sizable population from India, and so I like to use the Indian folktale.

Books recommended for this lesson:
  1. The Drum: A Folktale from India.  Retold by Tom Wrenn and Rob Cleveland.
Key Terms:

Patterns, Language Patterns, India, Folktales, Indian Folktales, Kindness, Caring, Drums


Story Map, The Drum